NYUAD Students to Build Eco-Home Ideal for Rural UAE Living
Original rendering of the sustainable home to be built at NYUAD as part of the Solar Decathalon challenge.

Solar Decathalon

NYU Abu Dhabi students will design and construct a solar-powered, high-efficiency home on campus as part of a regional competition to create sustainable homes for people who live in the UAE's non-urban areas.

NYUAD is among 22 universities chosen to participate in the first-ever Solar Decathalon Middle East sponsored by the Dubai Energy and Water Authority (DEWA). The announcement was made during the World Green Economy Summit in Dubai.

"With the UAE’s thriving economy and real estate market, there is an unprecedented opportunity to incorporate ecologically positive practices in both master planning and rural development while promoting innovative building technologies across the country and region," said Matthew Karau, NYUAD engineering design lecturer and faculty supervisor on the project.

NYUAD students and their faculty mentors, Karau said, have already developed a preliminary design that combines state-of-the-art technology with traditional Emirati architecture. The next step is to build on those plans with the end goal of creating a rural home for the UAE that celebrates local traditions and is also accessible, marketable, and promotes net-zero living.

NYUAD's Solar House Project

  • Students will design 90 square meters of high-efficiency livable space ideal for non-urban residents of the UAE.
  • Planning and construction will take place over the next two years at NYUAD's Saadiyat Island campus.
  • All NYUAD students will have an opportunity to get involved in the project, which needs everything from eco-friendly electrical systems to high-efficiency appliances to interior finishings, branding, and cuisine.
  • When complete, the house will be deconstructed and transported to Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai for final construction and judging.
  • Judging is based on ten categories including power systems, architecture, and design.
  • The winning house will be announced in October 2018.

NYUAD Students to Build Eco-Home Ideal for Rural UAE Living
Exterior of a solar home built by students in California in 2015. Thomas Kelsey / US Department of Energy
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The goal of this student-led project is to bring innovative and sustainable living solutions to a wider range of dwellings in the UAE.

Matthew Karau, NYUAD faculty supervisor for the project

The US Department of Energy Solar Decathalon has been running for several years in other parts of the world, however, this is the first time the competition has come to the UAE as part of the newly-formed partnership with DEWA.

By Andy Gregory, NYUAD Public Affairs